Astronomy Essentials

Sun enters Ophiuchus on November 30

November 30, 2019. If you could see the stars in the daytime, you’d see the sun shining near the border of the constellations Ophiuchus and Scorpius on this date. The sun crosses a constellation boundary, into Ophiuchus.

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Ring-shaped constellation with star Antares below it.
You can’t see the constellation Ophiuchus when the sun lies in front of it. But, each Northern Hemisphere summer, you’ll find this constellation to the north of the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius.

At about this time each year, the sun passes out of Scorpius to enter Ophiuchus. Like Scorpius, Ophiuchus is a constellation of the zodiac … but unlike Scorpius, Ophiuchus is not one of the traditional twelve zodiacal constellations.

The sun will remain in front of Ophiuchus until December 18.

The ecliptic – which translates on our sky’s dome as the sun’s annual path in front of the background stars – actually passes through 13 constellations, as defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), although this is not commonly known. After all, when you read the horoscope in the daily newspaper or a monthly magazine, you see only 12 constellations, or signs, mentioned.

There are the 12 traditional zodiacal constellations that have been with us since ancient times. The relatively recent addition of Ophiuchus as a member of the zodiac has increased the number to 13.

Visit Heavens-Above to find out which constellation presently backdrops the sun.

Today’s constellation boundaries were drawn out by the International Astronomical Union in the 1930s.

Chart of constellation Ophiuchis with stars in black on white.
View larger. | Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer.

Look at the chart carefully, and you’ll see that the border between Ophiuchus and the constellation Scorpius for the most part lies just south of, or below, the ecliptic. In ancient times, the Ophuichus-Scorpius border was likely placed to the north of, or above, the ecliptic. Had the International Astronomical Union placed its constellation boundary where the ancients might have, the sun’s annual passing in front of Scorpius would be from about November 23 till December 18, not November 23 to November 30.

Sun in zodiacal constellations 2019

Sun in zodiacal signs 2019

Bottom line: As seen from Earth, the sun passes in front of the constellation Ophiuchus each year from about November 30 to December 18.

Birthday late November to middle December? Here’s your constellation

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November 30, 2019
Astronomy Essentials

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Bruce McClure

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